Welcome To Tomorrow, Today.
June 12, 2015 | by Chris Kalaboukis
The Future Is Already Here…its just not evenly distributed. – William Gibson
This is totally true. Of course, some of that future might still reside n your head, but don’t worry, we can help you get it out of your head and into the world where it belongs.
I’ve been going around describing my concept of a Seamless World, where things like Big Data, the Internet Of Things, and Automation combine in order to make things just happen – automagically, as some may say. And when I describe this kind of stuff to ordinary, everyday people, they typically invariably say:
Oh, that’s too futuristic for us!
Ah but my friends, it not. This stuff that I’m describing isn’t the future – its the present, its today. Everything that I’m talking about is not super futuristic stuff which is impossible or expensive. These are technologies that exist today – there and now – and if you aren’t paying attention to them – someone else is. And that someone else could very easily be one of your competitors.
Let me give you an example: let’s take something mundane – like lunch (although I know some people who take lunch very, very seriously). Here in Silicon Valley, we have a little secret – we only go for lunch at 2 times: before 1145, or after 115. We assiduously avoid any time in between because its crazy busy – yes even in those places where the employees get free lunches – the cafeterias get really nuts between those two times. Of course, if you want to hang out and socialize with others, its a great time – if you are in a rush to get back to your desk because you are so super passionate about the project you are working on that you can’t wait – you go before or after. So here is a simple problem: how do we save lunch. How do we stop the invariable lineups, the intolerable wait for food, the cold noodles when you get back to your desk? Simple: let’s apply a little seamlessness:
As we walked towards the restaurant, my phone buzzed. An alert from the store. “Did you want to try our special today Kale, Mushroom & Chicken or do you want the usual?” Hmm, I thought, sounds interesting. I pressed “Yes”. We then continued to walk to the restaurant. When we got there, there was no line. People were eating their lunches at tables. There were no menus on the wall behind the counter. There was no cash register. Just a counter with a number of orders on it and a cooler full of drinks. We walked towards the counter where our orders waited. My name was written on the bag, plus my phone buzzed when I got near it. My colleague ordered her usual, so she picked hers up at the same time. At the cooler, my colleague grabbed a fruit juice. We picked up our lunch and walked to a table. We sat down. Moments later, I got a call that I had to get back to the office, so we got up and walked back to work.
What just happened? We walked to the restaurant, picked up our food, which was hot and freshly ready for us the moment we got there, and walked back to the office. We didn’t wait in line. We didn’t have to order. We didn’t even have to pay.
What really happened:
- Our smartphones detected that we were walking towards the restaurant, so they knew we were coming
- The restaurant automatically sent me an upsell suggestion as I walked towards it.
- My colleague didn’t get one as she had previously told them she didn’t want offers
- The orders were placed right after I said “yes”.
- My smartphone told the restaurant the exact moment that we would walk into the store based on our walking speed.
- It gave the store an ETA so they were able to make sure that our orders were as fresh and ready as possible when we walked in
- The orders were placed on the counter moments before we walked in
- As we reached our lunches, a Bluetooth low energy (BLE) sticker on the bottom of the bag communicated with our phones, buzzing when we stood in front of our orders.
- As we picked up our order, it detected that it was travelling with us. If either of us had picked up the wrong order, an alert would let us and the store know we’d picked up the wrong bag.
- My colleague picked up a fruit juice. Within moments, the BLE sticker on the bottle told her smartphone app that she was carrying it too, along with her lunch
- We sat down. Our smartphone apps detected a lack of movement within the walls of the store and assumed that we would be eating in. Our default payment methods were used to pay for our lunches.
- Moments later, our apps detected that we weren’t going to eat in after all, and we each got a 10% takeout discount…
I have to say – I really, really, like this future. No lines! No rude cashiers! No indecisive people in line in front of you! Lunch when you are hungry – not too early and not too late.
The thing is – while this may sound futuristic – its not – all of the technologies above exist today. You can – if you have the willpower – build this solution today. Imagine how your customers would feel if you could implement something like this. Imagine how many more people you could run through your store at rush hours. And finally, imagine the amazing value of the big data that you would be able to glean from this.
Why wait. Everything I’ve described above is doable today. Welcome to tomorrow, today.